|LE Magazine December 1999 |
Life Extension In The Year 2000
Geneticists say, "Life may be extended beyond 100 years." By early in the year 2000, scientists expect to complete a working draft of the DNA genetic code that will usher in a new understanding as to why we age and what can be done to stop it. Over the past six months, researchers have identified the genes involved in disease processes and expect to use this information to design therapies that will soon "cure" many of today's killer diseases. Experts categorically state that these discoveries "will open a window into every disease and transform the practice of medicine."
This may seem like science fiction to some, but consider that just ten years ago, it was virtually impossible to find even a single gene responsible for causing a particular disease. Now such genetic discoveries are common. To better put this into time perspective, the Nobel prize for discovering the structure of DNA was awarded to James Watson and Francis Crick in 1962. This means that for the greater part of the 20th century, scientists did not even know what DNA consisted of, yet researchers are now on the verge of altering genetic structure to prevent and cure degenerative disease. The fact that this research is progressing so rapidly is good news for those who are alive today and want to stay that way.
It's not just genetic breakthroughs that are coming to the rescue of those who are aging to death. In a dramatic challenge to previous neurological theory, results of studies in monkeys suggest that new brain cells are added to the primate brain each day. According to traditional scientific theory, the human brain was thought to be incapable of growing new cells or regenerating lost or damaged cells, explaining why severe brain injuries, for example, do not heal completely.
However, new research has suggested that the brains of more primitive animals, including songbirds, can grow new cells. The findings, published in the October 15, 1999 issue of the journal Science, suggest that this neural regenerative process may occur in primates-including humans. The results of these studies show there are natural mechanisms in the brain that, someday, might be harnessed for therapeutic purposes to replenish damaged areas to the brain.
The Life Extension Foundation is working on "neurotrophic growth factors" that have been shown to naturally restore neuronal propagation. This approach may represent a potent mechanism to prevent and treat various degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's, stroke-related dementia and aging itself.
Conventional medical wisdom has long assumed that it was impossible to grow new brain cells. Now that this misconception is falling by the wayside, radical concepts espoused by The Life Extension Foundation for decades (such as re-growing new brain cells) are attracting serious research dollars. As far as using genetic engineering to prevent or cure aging-related disease, this appears to be a foregone conclusion based on the new high-tech gene chip that probes changes in genetic expression with advancing age. This gene chip was developed by scientists at the University of Wisconsin and was the cover story in last month's issue of Life Extension magazine.
As the walls of scientific ignorance continue to fall, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we are at the brink of a historical change that will have a profound impact on many aspects of society. Genetic engineering will enable humans to program their cellular DNA in a way that controls their intelligence, appearance, feeling of well being, state of health and biological age. As a member of The Life Extension Foundation, you may become a biological component of the most remarkable evolution of all time. . . the ability of a species to design and molecularly control itself.
For those living today, the possibility of enjoying an extended healthy life span has never looked brighter. Emphasis should be placed on maintaining optimal health today in order to take advantage of the medical breakthroughs that appear to be right around the corner.
Life Extension Foundation
- Human Genome Project: Preliminary Report 1999
- Science, October 15, 1999;286:548-552.
- Science, August 27, 1999, 285:1390-1393
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